Sitting back at my desk in London having traveled 18,000 miles there and back, I realized I had completely underestimated the impact Antarctica would have on me. As I sat on a beach surrounded by penguins on my final day on the continent, I took in my surroundings and sighed in awe. I was amazed by where I was, what our team had achieved, what the other expedition members had accomplished and by Antarctica itself. When I stood up to walk back to the boat for the final time it was overwhelming. I was excited to get home and start inspiring others, to see my colleagues and show them I had managed to retain all of my fingers and toes… but walking away from the ‘world’s last wilderness’ put a lump in my throat that is hard to describe. I have no doubt the privilege of spending time in Antarctica will stay with me for the rest of my life.
So what has 3 weeks spent on the other side of the world, hurling ourselves into unknown territory, out of our comfort zones and into absolute, unrivalled utopia taught us? I asked the team to take some time to reflect on the experience and summarize their key takeaways:
Sam: Traveling with the 2041 Foundation has been a life changing opportunity. A privilege that brings with it a sense of responsibility to make some changes both as an individual but also to identify and lead something more meaningful and with greater impact.
Prateek: I have three key takeaways from the expedition. First, memories of a lifetime: unforgettable adventures in the last great wilderness on the planet. Second, a step change in my understanding of climate change and sustainability, and a network of friends from across the world that shares my passion for sustainability. The last, but perhaps the most important takeaway, is an even greater sense of ownership of the world around us, and a strong desire to drive some much needed changes to preserve it.
Subash: Back in London, it is becoming obvious that the biggest challenge is returning to the humdrum of daily life. But what is exciting is the friendships we’ve formed and the ideas we have to pursue going forwards. For me, that is pushing Bain to further help clients to embed sustainability into their everyday business practices.
Neysa: Despite the warnings given by the 2041 alumni we interviewed prior to our trip, I’m struggling to get back into normal life. I am certainly looking at the world through a different lens; having always been an environmentalist/conservationist, I am seeing more waste around me – the magazines and pamphlets dropped in my foyer, all the little bottles and servings at the market, paper towels in the bathrooms… And I want to do something. It does relate back to the beautiful environment, the pristine water, and white-white snow/blue-blue ice. But it also relates to being surrounded by inspiring people who want to make a difference in this world and taking some of that energy. I realize how honored we were to be able to sit with each one of the expedition members to hear more about their stories, what they did to become a part of the expedition and what they plan to, and will, do after. I look forward to keeping in touch with them and continuing our commitment to Antarctica and our Earth.
Harri: For me, this was an adventure to rival all others. I have devoted much of my time to exploring our fascinating world, yet Antarctica’s pristine beauty overwhelmed me. I think the most valuable experience of all was being exposed to 77 fascinating, enthusiastic individuals, all passionate about doing the right thing and making a difference in this world. Now we all have to use our empowering story to drive change.
I’ve witnessed first-hand the impact Bain can have on helping to shape these individuals’ social impact plans and I felt proud not only to be on the expedition, but to be a Bainie on the ship, working to make a genuine difference. Personally, I’ve learned the importance of fighting for what you believe in and ‘being your own master’ from some of the most inspirational people I have ever met. I believe I will be able to make more measured, relevant decisions because of this trip and expect the experience will shape my career and indeed my life. For the team, Antarctica inspired us and empowered us with the story and motivation to continue working with these extraordinary individuals to make a difference.
So what now? Well it’s not the end of the story for the Bain Antarctica Team. We have a huge amount to do to keep up with the social impact projects coming out of the expedition and to help 2041 achieve its goals. What 2041 does is unique, the effects tangible, and if we can help them unlock the behavior changes needed around the globe to help secure a more sustainable approach to living, then that’s got to be great. Keep an eye on the blog for more updates (and photos.)
As a final thought, I’ll just say it would be easy to get hung up on Antarctica withdrawal symptoms, but as I keep reminding myself, this is merely the end of the beginning. Bain & Company is committed to ‘doing the right thing’ regarding sustainability, and saving Antarctica is part of that. After all, I should know; I’ve been there.